Earlier this summer, Pokémon Go was released to wild success, beyond what anyone was prepared for. (Niantic, Inc. self-reports that it employs between 11 and 50 employees on their company’s Linkedin page, and had an estimated 20 employees at the time of the app’s launch.) The app’s use of augmented reality, layered digital content over photographic input from your mobile device’s camera, generated wide interest in this new field of entertainment technology.
But, now that the global phenomenon is cooling down to human levels of use (idigitaltimes.com reports that daily users have dropped from to around 35 million), what are we all going to do with our time? If you’re interested in making digital hash of the real world, check out these augmented reality apps.
Ink Hunter is on the low-tech end of the augmented reality spectrum; you even have to draw on your own tracking dots. Imagine have to draw dots on your face every time you wanted to use Snapchat to slap a flower crown on your head!
But what Ink Hunter lacks in seamless real world integration, it more than makes up for in practicality. What Ink Hunter allows you to do is test out how tattoos will look on your body. The app not only allows you to use your own sketches and images, but it comes loaded with dozens of preset options, all of which are sorted by artist.
The sheer volume and variety of the art is a selling point for the app, in and of itself. It includes portraits, dot work, and a startling number of Pokémon wearing onesies.
On the opposite end of the complexity scale, Ingress is a game meant for heading out into the world and pointing your camera at landmarks. As you’d be able to guess from playing this game for any amount of time, it’s from Niantic, just like Pokémon Go.
The two games are noticeably similar in terms of story telling style. Both draw their curtains over famous landmarks, pit teams of players against one another and use color-coding to assign territory.
The in-game explanation involves the discovery of alien forces on earth, as opposed to the story-architecture of the Pokémon games, but the most significant difference between the two games is the art direction. At once dark and ethereal, Ingress can be an extremely beautiful game to look at, especially if you’re inclined to fairytale-like updates to 90s cyberpunk aesthetics as beautiful.
Like Ingress, AR Invaders is a game meant for moving around in the world. Invaders is an immersive game that includes both a 360 degree mode and a 180 degree mode, which allows for the game play to take place on top of real world locations, as well as at your desk.
Invaders leans heavily on arcade nostalgia, especially on standup alien invasion games like Asteroids or Galaga. The app’s game play is simple, a sort of point-and-shoot with your phone, and has a multiplayer mode, if your friends are the type to shoot down spacecraft with you.
There are a lot of augmented reality apps out there that ask users to look up to the heavens, and no small number of these are educational apps designed to teach about constellations. (There are also apps that have compasses, keep track of wind direction and speed, and figure out where the sun is headed. Everybody wants to digitize the world.) However, Sky Guide stands out because it is incredibly elegant and beautiful. Don’t just take it from us: back in 2014, this app won the Apple Design Award.
While Sky Guide will just give you information if you know how to ask, it’s real bent is dragging users away from light pollution and into the dark. Sky Guide uses your device’s camera to identify celestial bodies, from constellations to visible man-made satellites.
Sky Guide, in addition to providing beautiful graphics, also provides an incredible amount of information. It’s an amazing purchase.
There’s practical and then there’s practical. Layar isn’t a game or an educational tool, but you can certainly play it like one. What Layar is, is a way to interact with various annotations layered on top of print material.
Layar allows users to read extra content associated with this participating material by scanning images and displaying digital accompaniment. This allows for interactions with print material and advertisements in a way that can often require brute force searching or excessive rerouting online.
In addition, Layar can scan QR codes and direct you to nearby attractions and necessities, like restaurants, landmarks and ATMs.